A Boyhood Christmas

In the 1950’s I was growing up in northern Indiana. We attended a small Catholic church so my Christmas experiences were commensurate with practicing Christianity.

One Christmas in particular, all of us boys were tucked in our beds upstairs. I report with absolute certainty that while I waited Christmas eve, unable to sleep of course, I distinctly heard sleigh bells emanating from the downstairs.

As quietly as I could I crept from the top landing a short way down the steps. At a point where I could look between the banisters I parked my self on the step and took in the scene below.

My Mom and Dad were in the living room and under the Christmas tree, where there were no gifts at the time I was sent to bed, I saw presents. Of course I was spotted and as was the custom back then in the Kellerman household, the youngsters all were awakened to the cry, “Santa Claus came!”

Downstairs we all went, five boys from the upstairs, my sister coming from her small bedroom on the first floor. We all opened our gifts and as I recall, we got just one gift apiece. Having a large family made multiple gift giving impossible.

How I relish that memory.

Another memory comes to mind concerning Christmas. It may have been several years later. Our family had grown to eight children and our Dad took whatever work he could to make ends meet and put food on the table.

This particular Christmas my Dad was not around. I don’t remember exactly where he was that Christmas. He may have been working for my Uncle in Chicago or he may have been driving truck over-the-road and was unable to be there.

With no money on hand to get Christmas gifts for all of us kids, up stepped my older brother and personal hero, Artie.

Artie was three years my senior and may have been twelve or thirteen at the time. He had an evening job mopping the floors at a small local eatery called Treasure Island. His attending school with the owner’s son may have garnered him that position.

Five bucks a week is what I believe Artie made in this job. Christmas Eve Artie and I walked up to Congdon’s drug store, the only drug store in this town of less than a thousand inhabitants.

Artie spent his own money to get toys for his younger siblings, then being Paul, Gregory and Jeffrey. They each got a toy that was wrapped and given them so we would not have a Christmas that just wasn’t Christmas.

For Artie and myself my brother purchased a bag of balloons. We had the greatest time with these. Laying on the top bunk of the bunk bed, rubbing the blown up balloon in our hair and seeing the static electricity allow it to stick to the ceiling. We laughed riotously.

This one Christmas sticks out in my mind so much because of the sacrifice of my older brother. The younger ones had no clue that the man of the house at that time took it upon himself to make sure his younger brothers had gifts under the tree.

I’m sure everyone has a favorite Christmas story. I’m sure that non-Christians too have a favorite holiday experience to share. This just happens to be mine.

The home from which this paper is generated wishes everyone on earth a good day to cherish. Should it be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, it doesn’t matter.

When any family gathering serves to honor each other, it doesn’t matter what the religion, only the intent to share our love.